Step 1: Design your project and collect the tools materials
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These box shelves are amazingly sturdy, thanks to the
two-layer, 1/2-in. plywood design. The thickness and the
overlapping joints make them strong enough to display
or store anything. You can even park yourself on one if
you need to!
We've designed these wooden box
shelves for heavyweight storage and
incredibly easy construction. Use them
for hats and gloves, books, games and
toys, or even laundry supplies. Custom-size them for
whatever space you have available and for whatever it is
that needs a home.
You'll be able to build one large box
from a sheet of plywood and have a bit left over for
another box. Any veneered 1/2-in. plywood will
work, but we suggest birch because the
grain doesn't show through paint. Buy
a quart of woodworker's glue, and
3/4-in. and 1-in. brads for your nail
gun. If you don't have a nailer, you can
hand-nail, but it will be a bit of a struggle.
You'll also need fast-drying wood
filler. Buy a quart of B-I-N or KILZ
primer and a quart of latex enamel
paint in the color of your choice. If
you choose a gloss finish, be aware that
if you don't pay attention to filling and
sanding, every single imperfection will
proudly display itself. Also pick up
some mini rollers (Photo 6) for applying
the finishes. And finally, a flush-trim
router bit will speed up the final
trimming (Photo 4). That way you can
cut the outer panels a little long and
achieve perfectly flush ends without
the hassle of precise cutting.
Figure A: Simple Box
Size the box to fit the wall space and objects you intent to put on it. See Step 2 for tips on determining exact dimensions of the parts.
Step 2: Cut out the parts
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Photo 1: Cut out the parts
Cut the box parts to length. A simple homemade crosscutting
jig lets you make perfect cuts with a circular saw.
It's easiest to rip the parts on a table
saw, but you can use a circular saw and
a ripping guide. If that's your plan, use
a crosscutting guide (Photo 1) when you
cut the lengths. Use fine-tooth
crosscutting blades for both types of
saws. After deciding on the size of your
box, you'll need to rip two different
widths for the box panels. Rip the four
inner panels 1/2 in. narrower than the
final box depths, and rip the four outer
panels to match the final depth. Be sure
to rip enough material to get all of the
parts made. If you like adjustable
shelves, drill the peg
holes before assembly. Measure the
inner box after assembly to get the
dimensions for the back panel. Cut the
back 1/8 in. overlong in both directions
and rout off the excess as we show in
Step 3: Assemble the box and trim the edges
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Photo 2: Glue and nail the inner box
Glue and nail the box together, using a framing square to
hold it square. Make the back 1/8 in. larger than the box, then
glue and nail it in place and rout any overhangs (Photo 4).
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Photo 3: Glue and nail the outer box
Add a second layer of plywood to the top and bottom of the
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Photo 3A: Oversize each panel
To avoid fussy measuring and cutting, oversize each
panel by 1/8 in. and cut off the excess later.
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Photo 4: Trim the edges flush
Trim the overhanging plywood with a flush-trim router bit.
The bit leaves a straight, smooth cut that's perfectly flush at
the ends. Install the end panels using the same method.
Assemble the outer box with glue and nails. As you glue and nail on the
back, bend out any bows in the sides
Cut the top and bottom outer panels
to length, 1/8 in. longer than the box.
Apply a bead of glue about 1/4 in. in
from the edges and a second bead in a
zigzag pattern in the middle (Photo 3).
Align the panels flush with the front
and with equal overhangs at the ends.
Nail the parts together with 3/4-in.
nails. Be careful. It's tough to fix the
damage from nails that miss the mark.
If you have clamps, use them to
squeeze closed any gaps. A tight joint
will reduce the amount of sanding and
filling you have to do later. For a perfect
edge, shave the overhangs with a
flush-trim router bit (Photo 4). As before,
cut the side panels 1/8 in. longer than
the box sides, and then apply and trim
them as you did with the top and the
Step 4: Finish the box
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Photo 5: Fill gaps and holes
Fill the plywood edges as well as nail holes and dents. Use a
fast-drying filler so you can sand the patches right away.
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Photo 6: Prime and paint
Prime the box, brushing the inside corners first. For a fast,
smooth finish on the rest of the box, use a small roller. Then
sand the primer, and paint using the same method.
Sand the exposed plywood edges until
they're smooth, first with 80-grit paper
and then 120-grit. Then work wood
filler into all of the edge grain, nail
holes and dents (Photo 5). After the filler
sets, sand everything flat with 120-grit
Brush primer into the inside corners
and then roll primer onto the rest of the
box (Photo 6). After it dries, voids that
didn't get filled will be very apparent.
So fill anything you missed, and then
sand and prime those spots again.
Brush and roll on two coats of paint,
lightly sanding between the coats with
Step 5: Mount the box on the wall
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Photo 7: Locate wall studs
Outline the box location on the wall
and mark the wall studs. Use the
outline to mark the pilot holes and then
drill them through the back of the box.
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Photo 8: Fasten with screws
Align the box with the outline and
screw it to the wall studs with 3-in.
It's imperative that you screw these
boxes to at least two wall studs; no wall
anchors of any kind will pass muster.
Use at least two 3-in. deck screws near
the top and two more at the bottom into
separate studs. If more studs are available,
use those, too. In Photos 7 and 8, we
show you an easy way to position and
drill pilot holes so the screws will hit
the studs when you mount the boxes.
Add peg holes for an adjustable shelf.
Vertical box with adjustable shelf
Add an adjustable shelf by drilling peg holes, evenly spaced in the inner box sides. Drill before assembling the box.